Ding Dong the Witch is Dead?

Is the wicked witch really dead? Although I'm running the risk of suffering ignominy at the hands of Betteridge's law, The Daily Beast is speculating just that. Namely, that the Patriot Act may soon be gone for good. We can only hope. Specifically, they say that if the Patriot Act is allowed to expire, it will almost certainly not be renewed.

That's because while the politicos judge they can get away with renewing the act, they're pretty sure the country won't stand still for what amounts to a new act that authorizes mass surveillance. This explains the frenzy that the Senate leadership is in. Although they are loath to “water down” the act, they know that if they don't get the act renewed in some form, it's probably dead forever.

This cravenness is really disturbing. If you think the act is useful and worthwhile then you should support it and pass another one if the current one expires. If you're not willing to do that then you have no business supporting the renewal of the current act. But, of course, politicians will be politicians.

Despite all the fuss and scare mongering on the part of the act's supporters, it probably won't make much difference if the act does expire. As The Daily Beast explains, the reason for that is that the act's major provisions are mostly not used or worth the trouble

  • The “Lone Wolf” provision has never been used
  • Roving wiretaps are seldom used (there were only 11 in 2013)
  • Bulk phone metadata collection is more trouble than it's worth.

This is all in keeping with the IG's report that Section 215 has not played a part in any investigation. The Senate has been called back in session today for one last stab at renewing the act. Let's hope that those senators who believe in civil liberties will hold the line.

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